How to build a more inclusive approach to workplace physical health

How to build a more inclusive approach to workplace physical health

62% of desk workers are currently suffering with musculoskeletal (MSK) issues like back pain. The underlying causes of workplace pain are often quite complex, making it challenging for employers to address them without a detailed strategy. This challenge is even greater for a subset of employees who have pre-existing health conditions that increase their risk of pain.

Effective workplace strategies to reduce pain should take a holistic approach. ​​This typically involves increasing physical activity, such as taking frequent walking breaks, as well as making ergonomic, postural and behavioural changes. But what about employees with mobility issues or health factors that increase their risk of pain? For example, working with your screen at the wrong height increases your risk of neck pain, but it’s much worse if you already have arthritis in your neck. Individuals with pre-existing conditions need tailored and inclusive solutions to manage their specific needs and prevent pain in the workplace.

Why does workplace inclusivity matter?

Inclusivity is more important than ever in today’s diverse workforce, particularly when it comes to workplace health and wellbeing. Over one billion people globally have some form of disability. Disabilities can range from physical limitations to vision impairment and chronic health conditions like arthritis. 43% of employees with less visible disabilities don’t disclose their conditions at work, making it even harder for employers to provide the right support. 

An inclusive workplace supports employees with all kinds of differences, ensuring that everyone has the opportunity to thrive. In reality, the modern working world still has a long way to go to become fully inclusive for people with disabilities and complex health conditions. 72% of disabled people have experienced negative attitudes or behaviour in the last 5 years. Disabled people are also twice as likely to be unemployed, costing the US economy up to $672 billion annually and creating a 30% employment gap in the UK. 

There are clear benefits for companies that prioritise inclusivity in the workplace. These benefits include lower turnover rates, higher productivity, better safety records and improved employee satisfaction. A study by Accenture found that companies adopting best practices for hiring and supporting people with disabilities outperformed their peers, achieving 28% higher revenue and 30% higher profit margins.

What are your legal obligations to employees with pre-existing health conditions?

The Health and Safety (Display Screen Equipment) Regulations 1992 require employers to carry out assessments to ensure their team have safe working environments in line with specific guidelines. This includes providing optimal work setups, appropriate lighting and suitable equipment to reduce the risk of MSK injuries at work. 

Under the Equality Act 2010, employers are legally obliged to make reasonable adjustments for employees with disabilities. This could be anything from modifying workstations, providing specialised equipment, or allowing flexibility in working hours. Employers are only allowed to ask employees about their disabilities for specific reasons, such as reducing health and safety risks in the workplace.

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How to foster inclusivity in workplace MSK health

There’s no one-size-fits-all solution for MSK health issues in the workplace. While simple steps like providing ergonomic support are a great starting point, it’s important to go further to create a truly inclusive approach to physical wellbeing at work. So, what steps can you take to understand and address the unique needs of employees with mobility issues and pre-existing conditions?

Inclusive workplace measures can range from:

  • Installing adjustable desks for individuals with mobility issues.
  • Providing captions for video meetings to support employees with hearing loss.
  • Creating designated rest areas for staff with chronic fatigue.
  • Simply having the right channels for employees to discuss their specific needs.

Even the smallest of measures contribute to a more inclusive and supportive workplace culture.

How VIDA can help build a more inclusive workplace

At Vitrue Health, we’re committed to improving physical health in the workplace for everyone through our AI workspace assessment, VIDA. We’ve recently launched an impactful set of features to make VIDA more inclusive for employees with mobility limitations and complicated health conditions.

1. Tailored support for employees with additional health needs

The VIDA assessment now includes a dedicated module to support users with relevant pre-existing health conditions. Employees can report health issues or conditions they have, whether it’s a minor muscle strain or a chronic condition like sciatica. 

Taking this information into account, VIDA builds a customised risk profile with tailored workplace recommendations for every employee. Whether the user is living with scoliosis, arthritis or a herniated disc, they’ll receive personalised advice on the best ways to work while considering their specific condition. With this a better understanding of their team’s needs and who might need additional support, guiding them to put the right support in place based on individual conditions.

2. Capture a more diverse range of working setups

VIDA now accommodates a broader spectrum of working setups in the interactive workplace planner, including wheelchairs. This ensures that all VIDA recommendations are inclusive and appropriate for employees with mobility limitations. So, you can rest assured that VIDA is promoting a more supportive and comfortable workspace.

VIDA inclusivity

3. A snapshot of each employee’s risks and support needs

We understand that managing the needs of a diverse workforce can be overwhelming. It inevitably involves numerous spreadsheets, reporting platforms and emails with occupational health providers. This often means spending as much time gathering information as supporting your team members. We’ve launched our new “DSE Passport” feature to make this process easier for you.

The new DSE passport feature provides a snapshot of every employee’s individual risks and support needs in one place. Whether it’s a prescribed chair by a GP to reduce back pain or a preference for using dual screens, the DSE passport captures years of information at a glance. You’ll be able to fully understand your team’s requirements and stay compliant with workplace regulations for your whole team, regardless of any pre-existing issues they may have. As a secondary benefit, in the case of an audit, it provides a one-stop-shop to show the full records of each employee. This means no data preparation work pre-audit!

In summary

Tackling musculoskeletal pain in the workplace is a challenging task. Even in the simplest of cases, a person’s risk of pain is influenced by many factors. These factors include their ergonomics, posture, behaviour, environment and personal factors such as genetics and lifestyle. This complexity is why rates of pain are so staggeringly high among desk workers.

The challenge becomes even greater when an employee has a related health condition. What works for someone with shoulder pain may not be effective for someone with an arthritic hip. Tailoring the approach to each individual’s needs is essential for mitigating risks to their musculoskeletal health. At Vitrue, our recent feature launches are a huge step towards a more inclusive approach to managing pain in your team.

At Vitrue Health, we’re on a mission to reduce musculoskeletal pain for millions of people. For more information on how VIDA can help you build a more inclusive workplace for employees with pre-existing conditions, get in touch with us at or book a demo today!

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Content Marketing Manager

Marisa has over 7 years of experience writing about a range of clinical topics including DSE, hybrid working and employee wellbeing. Check out more of Marisa's articles on the Vitrue Health blog!

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